Here’s Why Traditional Clocks Are Disappearing from Classrooms

At least in the UK, where kids apparently can't tell time.

Here’s Why Traditional Clocks Are Disappearing from Classrooms

At least in the UK, where kids apparently can't tell time.

Outside of the alphabet, learning what the big hand and little hand mean on that circular object filled with numbers is one of the first things that little kids learn in school. But in the age of technology, that basic skill set seems to be biting the dust. As a result, some schools in the UK are replacing analog clocks with digital ones after teens complained that they couldn’t tell what time it was while taking exams.

“The current generation aren’t as good at reading the traditional clock face as older generations,” Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) told The Telegraph. “They are used to seeing a digital representation of time on their phone, on their computer. Nearly everything they’ve got is digital so youngsters are just exposed to time being given digitally everywhere.”

Trobe added that they wanted to make the process of taking a major test as stress-free as possible, and that there was a major benefit to installing digital clocks because “it is much less easy to mistake a time on a digital clock when you are working against time.”

You might be tempted to assume that “not being able to read a clock” is just a new, brilliant excuse that modern teens have devised to get extra time on exams (kind of like the old “can I use the bathroom” routine). But other teachers have taken to social media to say that their students seem to be unable to tell time unless it’s literally spelled out for them. And Ruislip High School in London has already replaced its analog clocks with digital ones after noticing students seemed to have trouble figuring out how much time they had left on a test.

In more depressing news, it seems that kids today are also forgetting how to use a pen and pencil.

“To be able to grip a pencil and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers. Children need lots of opportunity to develop those skills,” Sally Payne, the head pediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust, told The Telegraph in February. “It’s easier to give a child an iPad than encouraging them to do muscle-building play such as building blocks, cutting and sticking, or pulling toys and ropes. Because of this, they’re not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and gold a pencil.”

Technology is great, but it’s important for us as a civilization to not become so dependent on it that we literally can’t live without it. Given the rise of tech addiction, and the disastrous effects it can have on our relationships, it’s crucial to get kids to put down the iPad and learn some basic skills. (Not least of all because you don’t want your kid developing an early case of “tech neck.”)

You don’t have to drop your kids off in the middle of the woods with nothing but a matchbox and razor to survive, but some of the survival skills you learned as a kid can go a long way in life. And for more on the risks of never detoxing from technology, check out 20 Ways Your Cell Phone Harms Your Health.

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